Every week, we close out this blog by inviting the reader to gather with us the following Sunday. I'd like to tell you why that invitation is so important.
At Radius, we talk a lot about changing the world. We have to, it's the mission we've ben given, and it is our responsibility to communicate that mission. It's also our responsibility to live out that mission. But sometimes, we need a model. Changing the world is a big job, and it is one that none of us have ever really done before. We need something we can't point to and say, "Ohhh, that's how you do it."
We could look up some YouTube videos on how to change the world. After all, that's how most of us learn new skills these days. And, while there are over 60 million videos on YouTube about how to change the world -- I'd rather get my information from a group of people who I know for sure changed the world. You wouldn't watch a video about changing a tire on an airplane and then go try to change the tire on your car. No, you find the right information for the task you want to accomplish.
All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.
A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity— all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.
The early Christian church is a great example of a group of people who made a positive difference in the world around them. Plus, it fits really well with the mission of Radius (probably because it was the inspiration for our mission). In them, we see a group of people completely committed to something. They heard the message of salvation preached by the apostles. They believed it. And they took action.
What's interesting is that the text doesn't talk about them going around doing a bunch of fundraising so that they could build the infrastructure that would become the Christian Church. The Bible doesn't say they formed a bunch of committees to decide how best to move forward. No. These were a group of new believers who were passionate about a cause, who were filled with love, and who moved out in ever-widening circles to create change. Even more cool than that -- they did it together.
Now, I'll be the first to admit that I'm not the greatest team player in the world. I'm more of an individual contributor. I like working on my own. But, even I see the power in community. It's so awesome to see a group of people with different backgrounds and stories, and different skills and talents come together with a common goal. In order to change the world, God's got to use a wide variety of people. When the harvest comes, it's never a one-man job. It takes a community of individuals working together, encouraging each other, helping each other, filling in the gaps for one another, and reminding each other of why they are doing what they are doing.
Each Sunday we come together for our Gathering. We share food together. We sing songs in worship together. We interact with each other, and get to know one another. We take time to speak to and hear from God together. This is our time to come together as a community in order to strengthen our individual resolve to contribute to the group effort. This is our time to share our stories from the week, stories of pain or triumph, of disappointment and victory. This is our time to recharge our love-batteries and prepare to go back out into the world on mission.
So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
Jesus laid it all out right here. He broke it down into its simplest terms. When we show love for one another, we are showing God to the world. Conversely, when we judge one another, or start to think that any one of us is better than the other, then we are showing something other than God to the world. As a church As the church, we are called to show this world who God is; a God of love and mercy, of grace and forgiveness, of acceptance and understanding.
1 John 4:12-13
No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.
And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us.
If God is living in us, then that means we have all the power and energy we need to love others. Sometimes, we lose sight of that. Sometimes, the world distracts us enough that we start to lose sight of our mission to change the world and our command to love the people of the world. Gathering with one another helps to remind us of the power we each hold inside of us.
The people of the early church and the people of today are the same. We're all just people. What set them apart was their willingness and commitment to do what God had called them to do. Each one of us can make the same choice they did and in so doing, we have the power to change the world.
Gather with us this Sunday as we continue our series, Harvest. Bring a friend, it could change the world (or at least their world). In the mean time, check out Blake's message on gathering together from this past Sunday here.